Tradeloop's Member Blog And News: December 2008

About Tradeloop

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We are the largest B2B marketplace for computer brokers, computer leasing companies, used computer wholesalers, third party maintainers and self-maintainers, who trade wholesale computer lots of used & surplus computers, bulk electronics, and hard-to-find used computer parts.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Five New Year's Resolutions for Tradeloop Members

After a year of astonishing market meltdowns, currency swings, and economic uncertainty, many people are glad to leave 2008 behind. But achieving the goal of a better 2009 takes work and commitment. So we're suggesting five New Year's resolutions for Tradeloop members. Use them to grow your business, increase your visibility on Tradeloop, and get more value from your Tradeloop membership.

1. Help Tradeloop grow – and earn free membership for your company. With our Refer a Friend program, you can send a coupon for 90 days free Tradeloop membership. Once the person redeems the coupon, we'll credit your account for a free month of membership. Referrals help us increase the size of the trading community with dealers that our current members already know and trust.

2. Write a good company profile to boost your search engine visibility. Your company profile information is also a way to make a good first impression on fellow Tradeloop members. Use these tips to enhance your profile and company description.

3. Manage and monitor your staff's Tradeloop usage with sub accounts. Use individual accounts to track and respond to sales leads. They're also necessary to manage individual parts lists. Remember, we just implemented new sort options that make it easier to manage your sub accounts.

4. Avoid Ethics disputes with good purchase agreements. We're pleased that our new Ethics blog has increased communication and transparency in the Ethics process. It has also substantially reduced the time required to resolve disputes. Nevertheless, the only good dispute is the one that doesn't happen! Avoid problems with these tips for writing clear and complete purchase agreements.

5. Read and participate in our member blog. We use it to announce new features, notify members of the status of Ethics disputes, Fast Track Fraud Alerts, and relay other Tradeloop news. Our blog keeps you up to date on what's happening at Tradeloop and offers tips to help you get the most value from your membership.

Happy New Year from the Tradeloop staff!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ethics Process Participant Agreement

We've added an additional step to the Dispute Resolution Process to require that both parties in an Ethics dispute agree to the terms of the process before participating.

The new Ethics Process Participant Agreement briefly describes the process and outlines both the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Before filing an Ethics complaint, the complainant must review the agreement and click the checkbox at the bottom of the Ethics Complaint form before filing the complaint. Defendants in Ethics cases can't respond to the complaint or post comments until they also agree to the terms.

We always try to resolve Ethics complaints amicably. Thanks to the new blog format that facilitates communication, we're often able to quickly mediate disputes. But if those efforts fail, cases are referred to the Ethics Committee for discussion and a vote.

We had an incident recently where someone participated in the process, disagreed with the outcome, and threatened to sue all parties involved. Even a frivolous lawsuit can consume time and money, and we don't want to put anyone at risk. When you participate in the Ethics Process, you have to accept that the Ethics Committee might not vote in your favor.

As a condition of membership, all Tradeloop members are required to abide by Tradeloop's Code of Ethics. This includes participating in the Ethics process when a complaint is filed and cooperating with the Ethics Committee. The new participation agreement doesn't change anything about the process. However, it does make sure that both parties understand their responsibilities and agree to participate fully.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ethically Speaking - December 2008

Tradeloop banned two non-member companies during the past month, and the Ethics Committee closed two cases between Tradeloop members by deciding to post the cases so Tradeloop members could review the details themselves (Case #4998 and Case #4992).

These cases resulted in the defendant being banned from Tradeloop:
  • Case #4995: This transaction occurred on another Web site. The defendant in this case had his Tradeloop account suspended (but not banned) in 2002.
  • Case #4993: The defendant refused to honor a purchase order and complete delivery.
In Case #5001, the Tradeloop member thought he was dealing with another Tradeloop member. In fact, the defendant in the case was actually a registered user, not a Tradeloop member. As we noted in this previous post, we've taken steps to clearly identify non-members who have a Tradeloop profile.

There were no new Ethics complaints filed during the past month and none are in committee. Tradeloop staffers and the Ethics committee have done an outstanding job investigating and resolving disputes. The Ethics Blog format facilitates communication and the new voting deadline policy encourages timely resolution of disputes.

For more information about Ethics complaints and cases, visit the Tradeloop Ethics Blog. Remember that the blog format gives members an opportunity to review and even comment on posted cases.

Sort Option Makes It Easier to Manage Your Subaccounts

Some Tradeloop members have just a few subaccounts set up, but others have dozens. Managing and keeping them current can be time-consuming, so use our new sort options to streamline subaccount management. With just a click of the mouse, you can sort by name, title, last login date and more.

This is a really useful option for members with numerous subaccounts. They can sort by last login date to see who's using Tradeloop regularly, sort by parts to see who is listing and keeping parts lists current, or by name or title to keep the employee list current. Active and inactive accounts display separately.

To use this new option, just log into your Tradeloop Account, click on the Users and Subaccounts link, and choose one of these sort options:
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Access privileges
  • Parts display
  • Last login
  • Parts
To learn more about subaccounts, visit our Multi-User FAQ page.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Captcha Helps Capture Spam Emails

Can you add 2+2?

Spam email programs can't, but (we hope) most Tradeloop members and end users can. We've added something called a "captcha" to our sales lead form to let legitimate queries in while keeping spam out.

One of the benefits of Tradeloop membership is the exposure you get in the industry and increased visibility to Web searchers. However, the downside to added exposure on the Web is often an increase in spam emails. That was becoming a problem in our system that generates leads for members by allowing non-members to contact them by an email form.

Previously, an email contact form was the best defense against spam bots because they couldn't fill out the form. They got a little smarter though - and so did we.

Now, when someone uses the sales lead form to send you a message, the sender will have to correctly answer a simple math problem. It's nothing too difficult - something like "What does 2 + 2 equal?" If the sender can't answer, the message isn't sent.

You may be wondering about the next step, should spam bots learn how to add. Not to worry: Customer Support will have the "How to Solve Differential Equations" tutorial ready in plenty of time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is That Dealer Really a Tradeloop Member? Here's How to Tell.

Is the company you're negotiating with a Tradeloop member or a registered user?

We changed the layout of the Company Profile page to make it clear who is a Tradeloop member and who is not. Just look for either an "ID Validated" notation and a date (which means the company has been a Tradeloop member since that date) or the "Non Member" designation. It appears directly under the company name.

With over 150,000 companies registered at Tradeloop during the past 12 years, we have one of the most comprehensive directories of wholesale dealers available anywhere. However, "registration" doesn't equal "membership." A registered user can create a profile, and we validate their identity. But only Tradeloop members go through our extensive member validation and verification process.

The Tradeloop community has such an excellent reputation in the industry that Tradeloop membership automatically gives your company more credibility with buyers and sellers. So it's no surprise that some unscrupulous companies have tried to pass themselves off as Tradeloop members.

They would create a Tradeloop profile and tell other dealers that they were "on Tradeloop" or "part of Tradeloop." Perhaps that's not fraudulent, but it's certainly misleading. We did have some cases of outright fraud, where someone claimed to be a Tradeloop member and wasn't.

Be careful about doing business with non-members. Most Ethics Complaints and disputes are between members and non-members. The non-members aren't bound by Tradeloop's Code of Ethics.

Of course, non-member status doesn't automatically make a company dishonest. However, you should spend some extra time on due diligence before making deals with non-members. Those companies haven't been through our member validation process that verifies details about their identity and business.

Our Customer Support staff works hard to keep fraudulent companies out of the Tradeloop community. We remind you to be careful too. Make sure you're dealing with a Tradeloop member, and carefully review the purchase agreement before the transaction is final.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Three Cheers For Our Technical Staff!

At some point, most Tradeloop members communicate with our Customer Support staff. Maybe it's a quick validation phone call, a short Live Chat session, or even the plesant surprise of having your email answered within minutes. But there's another group of Tradeloop staffers who work just as hard. Led by Brian Sweeney, our technical staff works continuously to upgrade the site, fix bugs, and keep Tradeloop running smoothly.

It's time to give a well-deserved shout-out to the professionals who, over the course of a year, implemented an entirely new database and server system without experiencing any downtime on the live Tradeloop Web site. Tradeloop founder and CEO, Rohi Sukhia, likened the accomplishment to "completely rebuilding a 747 while it's in flight."

Each month, our technical staff designs and implements the upgrades that we announce here on the blog. They also find and fix system bugs and tweak databases to improve performance. Most of their work is behind-the-scenes maintenance that sounds boring, but is really critical to the site's smooth operation. In the past 3 months, the technical staff has completed more than 100 major improvements, upgrades, and bug fixes.

Please join everyone at Tradeloop in a round of applause. Their efficient team effort keeps the site running smoothly - and getting better every month.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Faster Resolution of Ethics Complaints

For the first time since we launched the Ethics System, we have no complaints under investigation and there are no cases before the Ethics Committee awaiting resolution. No, we didn't shut the system down, but we have implemented new procedures to investigate and resolve complaints more efficiently.

This past summer, we launched the Tradeloop Ethics Blog as part of the redesigned Ethics area of the Web site. The system allows Tradeloop members to review case details, read comments from the Ethics committee, and even blog about posted cases. It gives the Ethics Committee and the parties involved a forum where they can discuss the case and hopefully resolve it in an amicable manner. The blog format makes it much easier for the parties to communicate and work together.

It also helped speed up resolution of complaints by making it easier to gather the facts of the case and present them to the Ethics Committee for discussion and a vote.

Our most recent change to the system is the addition of a voting deadline for the Ethics Committee. Although the discussion phase was generally completed quickly, sometimes the actual vote lagged and delayed resolution of the complaint. A deadline reminds the committee members that their vote is needed and sets a firm date for resolution.

We're pleased that our efforts to streamline the process have been so successful. We also want to recognize the efforts of our all-volunteer Ethics Committee, our staffers who support the process, and the Tradeloop members who participate. By working together, we all help make Tradeloop a safe and reliable trading community.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Easily Manage Your Tradeloop Emails With Our Opt-out System

In 2007, the Washington Post reported on a growing trend in the business world: people declaring "email bankruptcy," and either deleting their entire email inbox or - more drastically - refusing to use email altogether.

We don't want Tradeloop members to view our messages with such fear and loathing, so we give you numerous options to manage Tradeloop emails and Broadcast messages. Just log into your account, and click on the "Email Center" link. From that page, you can select options that let you receive a daily or hourly digest of Tradeloop activity. Or, use the filter options to just receive Broadcasts related to the supplier, product category, or geographical area you're interested in.

There's also a link on that page titled "Email Opt Out Preferences." To unsubscribe to a particular message category, click the checkbox next to the option and save the changes. Your preferences are applied immediately.
The process is completely reversible. Just go back to the email opt out page and deselect the checkbox, and you'll automatically begin receiving the notifications again.

These options save you time and give you more control over your email inbox. You'll have more time to read and respond to those messages you do want to receive.